Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just Read: Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

“Why don’t you kill yourself? Because I don’t want to, the Rev. Lowe thinks petulantly.  This-whatever it is- is nothing I asked for.  I wasn’t bitten by a world or cursed by a gypsy.  It just …happened.  I picked some flowers for the roses in the church vestry one day last November.  Up by that pretty little cemetery on Sunshine Hill.  I never saw such flowers before…and they were dead before I could get back to town.  They turned black, every one.  Perhaps that was when it started to happen.  No reason to think so, exactly…but I do.  An I won’t kill myself.  They are the animals, not me.” –Stephen King, Cycle of the Werewolf

When I first started the book, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it, because for the first six or so chapters, it was one repetitious event after the other: We would be introduced to one character, and then they would die by the hands of the werewolf, and so on, and so on.  I did however, like how King meshed romance and horror together in his February chapter while his character, Stella Randolph.  In this case, I thought it worked well because she was up late waiting for her lover, and when the beast came, it was almost like it didn’t matter – plus, I liked the line “Love is like dying.”

I didn’t start getting pulled in until the story hit the month of June, because here we finally got some inkling of a plot unfolding and the dots started to connect.  In this chapter, we find out that a man that normally visits the café is a regular and someone that everyone in town knows, so when it is he that turns into the beast, as a reader, I started going through names that were mentioned, possible witnesses, etc.  Now, I was curious.  And then I’m introduced to little Marty Coslaw.

I though Marty was a great addition/character in this book because it showed how the disadvantaged (not a beast) could take on the advantaged (the werewolf); then King added the fact that Marty was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, thus thickening both the plot and the conflict.  I don’t want to do a bunch of plot summary here, but I did like the fact that the fireworks blowing out one of his eyes was the sole reason behind how Marty ended up identifying Rev. Lowe at the end of the book – shame, shame, Rev. Lowe! Werewolves don’t give out candy on Halloween!

Oh, and I really liked how King kept reiterating the werewolf’s green eye.  After his first encounter with Marty, we view the description of the eye in almost each subsequent kill, so I liked that King kind of emphasized it at the end when the wolf fixes his one eye on Marty before getting two silver bullets pumped into his chest.  But realistically folks, I don’t think there is any way that Marty would have been that calm- adrenaline rush or not.  Yeah, yeah, I know he cries after it is all over… but throughout the entire climax scene of the book, it is like the kid is a fully trained warrior who shows no emotion and knows that there is no way that he is going to lose.  Just seems a little unrealistic to me…and if I’m going to believe that there is a werewolf running around, I want the ending to at least be probable.


  1. I agree with your assessment of Marty's lack of emotion at the end, but it didn't occur to me because everyone in the book seemed emotionally distant (or we didn't get to know them because more than half the book - 7 months of 12 - features an intro and a killing as you point out). All in all I never got emotionally invested in this story and that disappointed me. Good post.

    Dave J

  2. It's weird, because in the first killing, the wolf has yellow eyes, which then switch to green for the remainder of the book, probably to match Wrightson's art.
    Marty does seem too calm in the last part, the movie they made of this, called Silver Bullet, does an awesome job with this last scene.
    Maybe though, Marty's so calm because he now feels pity for Reverend Lowe rather than fear. He doesn't kill Lowe out of hate, but to put him out of his misery.

  3. I agree with you on your last paragraph. I didn't buy that Marty was able to be the killer of the werewolf at all. I know that you want your hero to take on the villain without help but this hero didn't seem strong enough. He was basically the only one determined enough to fight, that's all.
    Overall, I definitely agree with you. This story, although short, really starts to draw the reader in.

  4. I agree with your comments on Marty's calm state when he kills the werewolf at the end. It did seem a bit too easy. I loved Marty and the fact that he was handicapped and still able to outsmart the monster, but a little bit of a struggle wouldn't have hurt, even if it was an internal struggle when he goes to pull the trigger.